OSD 141: Full court press
The Supreme Court is going to rule on carry laws.
A hundred weeks ago, in “OSD 41: 2A Legit 2 Quit”, we wrote about a case the Supreme Court was about to hear. The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association (NYSRPA) was suing New York City to overturn a gun law that made it illegal for city residents to take their handguns out of the city. (The Court ultimately ruled that the case was moot. NYC preemptively repealed the law ahead of oral arguments, in a successful attempt to stop the Court from making an on-the-merits ruling that could have bad implications for other gun control laws.)
Two years later — this Wednesday, to be precise — the Supreme Court will hear a case where the NYSRPA is suing New York state to overturn a gun law. If you’re reading this newsletter you probably already know what that’s about, but in case you don’t, the case is NYSRPA v. Bruen, and the issue is New York’s carry permit regime. The NYSRPA is being represented by Paul Clement, who’s probably the most highly-regarded appellate lawyer in the country. On Wednesday, Clement will be arguing that New York’s may-issue system is unconstitutional, and that the Constitution makes it illegal for states to only parcel out carry permits to a favored class of people. From his merits brief (bold emphasis ours):
In reaffirming the promise of the Second Amendment, Heller surveyed a wealth of historical materials that made clear beyond cavil that the vast majority of jurisdictions have honored the right to carry arms for self-defense. That remains true today in most of the Nation — but not in New York. New York continues to make it all but impossible for typical, law-abiding citizens to exercise their right to bear arms where the right matters most and confrontations are most likely to occur: outside the home. The only people who may carry a handgun beyond the curtilage are those who can show, to the satisfaction of a local official vested with broad discretion, that they have a special need for a handgun that distinguishes them from the vast bulk of “the people” protected by the Second Amendment. As to everyone outside that small subset, there is no outlet to carry handguns for self-defense at all. That restrictive and discretionary regime is upside down. The Second Amendment makes the right to carry arms for self-defense the rule, not the exception, and fundamental rights cannot be left to the whim of local government officials.
So that’s the crux of the case. In the first part of that passage, though, Clement mentions that “most of the Nation” recognizes “the right to carry arms for self-defense”. How much of the nation is “most”? Well:
You can get a carry permit in the blue areas. In the green areas, you don’t even need a permit. The only jurisdictions left in the US where you can’t carry are Hawaii, Maryland, and New Jersey, and a handful of counties in California, New York, and Massachusetts.
The evolution of this is clear even just in the two years since the previous NYSRPA case:
Five states flipped from blue to green. That’s one every few months.
On the ground, the question of whether people have a right to carry a gun for self-defense is long-since settled. The only question this Wednesday is whether the Supreme Court will mop up the last few stragglers.
We’ll leave you with a quick thread on an underdiscussed aspect of carry laws. The discussion is often either highly philosophical or highly stats-based, and it proceeds as a talk about values. Very abstract stuff. And that’s fine, abstract stuff is important to discuss.
But in practice, for a lot of people, this is what carry laws look like:
Thalia🎃 @Tfort9Reminds me of the client I had once that was 16. In a car with granny and aunt and uncle. Cop pulled over car (some minor infraction), and “found” a gun in glove compartment. Even thought uncle claimed ownership, granny, aunt and teen were arrested and put through system. https://t.co/JbqaK6BAHJ
Click into that for more.
This week’s links
Pretty cool mini-documentary about a gun culture that is in some ways similar to the American one, and in other ways very different.
Baltimore County police officer indicted on charges of accepting bribes in exchange for handgun licenses and carry permits
Cool gun. Plus the guy in the video is just living his best life, rocking a classic gun and an even more classic mustache.
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